Hiccup is sudden, unintentional contraction of the diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm lies at the base of the lungs and is essential for normal respiration. Phrenic and vagus nerves that control the diaphragm play an important role in its function.
Excessive eating and drinking, as well as consumption of carbonated beverages may irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups. Also sudden temperature change (i.e. hot – cold showers and hot – cold drinks) and emotional stress have been found to play a role on its onset. Hiccups can also be psychogenic or idiopathic. Some drugs (benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alpha methyldopa, etc.) may cause hiccup.
Though usually a mild self-limited disorder, hiccup may be persistent and related to serious underlying illness such as neoplasms, congenital malformations, multiple sclerosis, vascular lesions, hyponatremia, hypocapnia, hypokalemia, hyperglycemia, uremia, goiter, hepatitis, cholecystitis, pneumonia, aneurysm, peptic ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, glaucoma and hernia. Should hiccups become persistent, medical evaluation is mandatory.
Simple remedies for the cure of hiccups of benign origin:
1. Hold your breath
2. Pull your knees up to chest and lean forward
3. Bite a lemon
4. Drink a glass of ice-cold water
5. Eat a teaspoon of dry granular sugar
6. Avoid emotional stress and think of something pleasant
7. Relax and repeat in ten minutes.
Modern medicine provides a number of effective drugs to treat hiccups.
ANASTASIA MOSCHOVAKI, M.D.
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